Even with hope in sight for the pandemic, working from home might be here to stay. Which means the challenges of having ADHD and remote working are here to stay, too.
We thought remote working would last a few weeks at the most. Were we kidding ourselves or what?!?
Did you realize how hard working remotely could get? Especially for adults with ADHD, remote working got REALLY hard.
Trying to stay focused on work with no external reminders.
Being responsible for creating our own routines.
Not being able to escape the clutter and the disorganization.
Setting boundaries around work.
Helping kids with virtual learning while trying to do your own work.
Rarely getting away from whatever makeshift workspace you created.
Yup, it got hard.
As an ADHD life and productivity coach, I’ve been working from home for years. I’ve battled many of the remote working challenges myself.
Trying to ignore it only made things worse.
So it’s important to identify the perils of remote working with ADHD. Especially the pieces that have caused you trouble this year. So you can create strategies to help you overcome them!
The 4 Main Challenges of ADHD and Remote Working
1. Avoiding Distractions
Have you had a hard time avoiding distractions? Like the games or social media on your phone? Or thinking you can watch just one episode of Schitt’s Creek? Then three hours later you’re still sitting there.
Yes, distractions can help us deal with a difficult reality. But you’ve got to get wise to distraction if you’ve got ADHD. Especially when you’re working remotely.
Otherwise, your priorities don’t get done. And you dive into the spiral of shame and fear and worry.
Here’s my favorite ADHD strategy for pulling out of distractions. Set a repeat timer for frequent check-ins. When what you are doing isn’t what you intended to be doing you can quickly get back on track.
This one is an ADHD Success Club favorite. I can’t tell you how many lives this simple trick has helped change.
2. Being Unmotivated
Do you often find yourself staring at the computer screen or spreadsheet with a strong case of the “I don’t wannas?” What self-respecting ADHD adult hasn’t!
Let me tell you a secret. Your motivation is not the problem. Being unmotivated is merely a symptom. You’re unmotivated because you don’t have enough stimulation. Members of my ADHD Success Club know all about needing stimulation. Manipulating stimulation is a key ADHD success skill. Especially for remote workers.
People with ADHD often need external stimulation to stay focused and start a task. And let’s face it, working alone at home is less stimulating than working in the office. Subtle as it may be, the background noise and energy of your co-workers help you to focus. Knowing others might observe you is also motivating.
So, how do you get yourself motivated to work when you’re sitting alone at home? You take advantage of one of the big strengths of ADHD: getting started. For most of us, once we get started on something we can keep going. And then, when we slip into hyperfocus, try and stop us from focusing!
Here’s a strategy to get started: Pull out your handy-dandy timer again. Set it for 10 minutes. Tell yourself that you can do anything for 10 minutes and get to work. When your timer dings say thank you and keep going.
3. Creating an ADHD-Friendly Workspace
This has been the biggest ADHD remote working challenge the past year. Thirteen months ago, our homes were only living-sleeping spaces. We had to quickly improvise multi-living-learning-working-exercising-playing-sleeping spaces.
ADHD adults are struggling to work remotely from their bed, sofa, or dining room table. Not having the right workspace can be depressing and zap productivity.
You may have patched together a workspace. But, is it the right workspace? Is there somewhere else in your home where you’re more productive?
Here’s a strategy to create an ADHD-friendly workspace: Yes, I have an office, but one of my favorite ADHD remote working tips is to move around the house. A simple change in location can boost my focus and energy.
Right now I’m writing at the dining room table. Sometimes it’s the sofa. Only when I’m on coaching or Zoom calls do I stay in my office.
4. Work Hour Boundaries
Most people who go off to an office have firmer work hours. A clear start and stop time to their work day.
Office hours get fuzzier when working from home. Especially if you live alone. Since work is always there, it’s easy to get pulled into trying to finish what you haven’t gotten done.
One of my clients was putting in 13 hour work days. Talk about burnout! And, we calculated she was earning about $3 an hour…
Here’s a strategy for setting strong work hour boundaries: Get clear on what time you start working, eat lunch, and stop your workday.
Be consistent about when you start your work day. Get up on time. Turn off the morning news and move to your “office”.
Take a lunch break. Your brain needs healthy food to focus. Stepping away from your work will help as well
Set a boundary on the end of your workday, too. Working from home makes it tempting to work into the wee hours of the night. Don’t go there. It’s not good for you or your productivity.
These are the main challenges of having ADHD and remote working. Have you discovered more? Post them in the comments below. It’ll help others to know they’re not the only one struggling.
And what is the most important thing I want you to remember about having ADHD and working remotely? Forgive yourself. This is tough. It took me years to learn how to stay focused and get stuff done. Be kind to yourself.
Want More Tips to Be Successful Working from Home with ADHD? Read More: